Computer Problems? Before You Call Tech Support

This is truly the age of information at your fingertips and most users may not even be aware of the vast array of tools available on the Internet – from tutorials on paper and video to easy to use applications that can do everything, even make coffee.

Most home users or even business users without dedicated IT support usually find themselves calling technical support or local providers of support services for computer problems they can easily fix themselves if they take a minute to get online and search for answers.

In the past couple of weeks, I have had to rebuild a few Linux servers and I kept running into all kinds of errors that would have driven a tech support person insane if I had been calling every few hours.  Take the following errors for example on the Linux server:

  • “User’s $HOME/.dmrc” file is being ignored
  • error while loading shared libraries : : cannot open shared object file
  • “GConf error: Failed to contact configuration server

Then on the Windows side, I had  to deal with a couple of these:

  • “Aw, Snap” error when opening a web page
  • Windows protection errors when shutting down a computer
  • Fatal exception errors
  • Computer not coming out of hibernate or sleep mode
  • Blank monitor even though computer is on

Then there are the usual suspects – a virus or spyware infection, computer running slow, web browser not loading, wireless connection not working etc.etc. The solution to any of these can easily be researched by the user online. Just hop on a search engine like Bing, Yahoo!, Google, or even Wikipedia. If you have access to your operating system, great. Type in the error you are getting or even your frustration in your own words – like “my desktop has disappeared in Windows 7” and try out a few of the fixes.

Some solutions may be as simple as making sure your firewall is not blocking the web site. Others may require you to reboot your computer. For example, if you run across the disappearing desktop problem on Windows 7, the solution could be as simple as right-clicking on the “blank” desktop, selecting “View” and choosing “Show desktop icons”. That would have just saved you at least $75 of support charges.

If you have a virus infection and cannot access your computer, there are Linux LiveCDs from major antivirus vendors like Kaspersky, Bifdefender, Avast that you can use to scan your system and they are free. There are also regular Linux CDs like Puppy Linux with a built-in virus scanner that will scan and remove any infection without altering the operating system.

There are options you can try before spending the $150 to fix a computer problem. Obviously, if it turns out that you cannot fix it yourself, then the money spent will have more value.

Happy computing.